The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROSLING
Plaintiffs by mandamus action
in the nature of a review seek to set aside a determination of the United States Civil Service Service Commission (Commission) which refused to allow as creditable toward retirement employment
with the Civil Works Administration (CWA), Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA), and Work Projects Administration (WPA).
The Commission has filed its answer alleging, and a return, supporting its position, that the services rendered were performed in an employment to which the defendants had been assigned as beneficiaries of relief. Against the backdrop of general impoverishment resulting from the massive unemployment in the depression years these agencies had been established by direct federal statute or vicariously by Presidential Order to provide what was, with the intent well understood, described as "project employment."
Defendants' papers incontrovertibly show that criteria have been promulgated by the Commission
and acted upon for many years past which one had to meet who claimed status as a federal employee in a relationship serving as a predicate for the retirement recognition plaintiffs here seek. These indicia of federal employment contemplate that the person laying claim thereto shall have been (1) engaged in the performance of federal functions under authority of an Act of Congress or an Executive Order; (2) appointed or employed (not merely assigned to a task as a relief beneficiary) by a federal officer within his competence and capacity as such; and (3) so employed under the supervision and direction of a federal officer.
The criteria so announced were held reasonable and valid in Stapleton v. Macy, et al., 113 U.S.App.D.C. 78, 304 F.2d 954 (1962). Plaintiffs for their part adduce nothing which persuades this court that it should, assuming it were proper to do so, disregard that precedent.
Plaintiffs' status in the periods affected has been adjudged by the Commission to have been that of "[relief] project [employees]" who did not qualify as federal employees in the sense in which that term is used in a context of entitlement to retirement credit. They were, moreover, found not to fall within the narrowly limited group of administrative personnel who by express exception are accorded the desired recognition.
The construction thus declared by the Commission was bottomed on an evaluation of employment activities and relationships of plaintiffs in a frame of reference delineated by long-standing, self-consistent
administrative interpretation. The force of such stare decisis in agency procedure bears heavily in the scales of judicial acceptance, especially when it is clear that the administering official or body is possessed of an expertise in the specialized field which a reviewing court, confronting multifarious problems as its daily fare, cannot be expected to, and, in fact, does not, possess.
Defendants' motion for summary judgment is accordingly granted, and plaintiffs' cross motion for reciprocal relief is dismissed as moot.
Settle order and judgment on ...